Chris Sugai, co-founder of Niner Bikes, has joined Gates
, the company best known in the cycling world for its carbon belt-drives, as General Manager of Gates Global Mobility. After spending nearly twenty years of pushing 29ers, Sugai will use his long-standing industry knowledge and leadership to focus on developing drive solutions for not only bicycles, but all forms of two-wheel vehicles, including powersports. That divisions encompasses e-bikes and motorcycles, as well as electric micromobility, too.
|Adding Chris Sugai to the Gates leadership team signals our commitment to reach beyond the Gates automotive heritage and bring the best and brightest talent into the Gates family as we advance how the world moves. Whether it’s 29-inch wheels or disc brakes, Chris Sugai is a visionary thinker who was ahead of the curve on technologies that revolutionized bike design and improved the bicycling experience for customers around the globe. He will play a key role as we grow and expand our offerings for the personal mobility market.— Tom Pitstick, Chief Marketing Officer, and Senior Vice-President of strategic planning for Gates|
Given the growth of e-bikes across all sectors of cycling, it makes sense that Gates would be looking to further expand into that area. After all, this is the same company that created the first toothed timing belt back in 1945 - they have a long history of supplying parts for motors.
More about Gates: Gates is a global manufacturer of innovative, highly engineered power transmission and fluid power solutions. Gates offers a broad portfolio of products to diverse replacement channel customers and to original equipment ("first-fit") manufacturers as specified components. Gates participates in many sectors of the industrial and consumer markets. Gates products play essential roles in a diverse range of applications across a wide variety of end markets ranging from harsh and hazardous industries such as agriculture, construction, manufacturing, and energy, to everyday consumer applications such as printers, power washers, automatic doors, and vacuum cleaners, and virtually every form of transportation.
|I am absolutely thrilled to become a part of the dynamic team at Gates Corp's Global Mobility Unit. As the world rapidly progresses toward e-motors for bicycles, scooters, and motorcycles, there is a dire need to reimagine the conventional use of chains and derailleurs, and explore cleaner, simpler, and more efficient alternatives. This is where the cutting-edge Gates Carbon Drive belt drive technologies come into play, promising to revolutionize the way we envision and execute drivetrains. With unparalleled strength, durability, and quiet operation, these innovative belts are poised to become a game-changer in the industry. I am eager to work with this exceptional team and contribute towards this exciting transformation.— Chris Sugai, General Manager of Gates Global Mobility|
Considering that and the fact that, with few exceptions (Trek commuting bikes comes to mind), belt-drives and gearboxes have failed to find a place in the line-up of any major bike manufacturer, does this reflect how hard it is to get a fully-corporate bike company to make a radical shift towards adopting different technologies?
Think about it...most PB sh!t-posts echo the same sentiment: whether a bike is long enough, slack enough, or has a steep enough seat-tube...to the point where the only bikes in any given segment that are worth discussing are converging on the same design parameters.
So, two leaders in the industry -who happened to co-found the same company- have dropped their chains in favor of belts. If you've ever ridden a belt-drive or gearbox bike (or tried to shop for either), this announcement should resonate as being news-worthy to say the least.
As a mountain biker who works in the commercial mobility space, I was glad to read this. I had seen this role posted at Gates and even applied for a role in their Mobility Drive Systems department 2 years ago. For me - this type of cross pollination is really exciting. The spirit of the mountain bike industry paired with an organization with the history and resources like Gates - great stuff
(I also had a rock rip of my derailleur two days ago...)
I've information vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I know the kings of England, and I quote the fights historical
From Marathon to Waterloo, in order categorical;
I'm very well acquainted, too, with matters mathematical,
I understand equations, both the simple and quadratical,
About binomial theorem I'm teeming with a lot o' news,
With many cheerful facts about the square of the hypotenuse.
I'm very good at integral and differential calculus;
I know the scientific names of beings animalculous:
In short, in matters vegetable, animal, and mineral,
I am the very model of a modern Major-General.
Wonder what this means for Niner going forward though?